To Point Reyes we shall go

Me at Point Reyes with bull elephant seal in back

“The world is not in your books and maps, it is out there.”


Since moving to the Bay area, I have been suggested a plethora of places to explore. This beautiful state has much to offer in terms of scenery and wildlife. No matter who I spoke with, however, there was one area that kept coming up. That beloved spot that was so frequently shared was Point Reyes National Seashore, laying just north of Fort Cronkhite.

Bull elephant seal on beach at Point Reyes

What made me want to take an adventure out to Point Reyes? What sold me on taking the trip was a chance to see the elephant seals and Tule elk herd. Early December is when the first of the male elephant seals arrive on the sandy shores of Point Reyes, looking to lay claim to the beach in order to impress the incoming females. An interesting fact about the elephant seals is that they only live for two months of the year on land while the remainder of the year is spent in the ocean. Watching the displays of male dominance behavior is fascinating. You never realize how fast these guys can move until you see two males charging at each other. It was such an experience to hear and observe these animals in person. 

Tule Elk Point Reyes. photo: NPS

Unlike the elephant seals, the Tule elk heard are not a seasonal occurrence. The United States is home to four subspecies of elk; Eastern, Rocky Mountain, Roosevelt, and Tule. Seeing all four subspecies of elk in the wild has been a goal of mine. What is interesting about the Tule elk herd is that they were thought to be an extinct species until a rancher named Henry Miller discovered the last isolated group in 1874. With this discovery, conservation efforts were placed to ensure this last remaining herd survived. According to the National Park Service website “Tule elk are endemic to California, meaning they are found only here.” It was a really special experience to see this herd recovered and flourishing once again in the wild.

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